June 29, 2006

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Front Line Assembly, Artificial Soldier
Metropolis Records, 2006

Skinny Puppy co-founder Bill Leeb has recruited a commando squad of past and present Front Line Assembly contributors for this outing. Along with Rhys Fulber, Chris Peterson and newbie Jeremy Inkel, Leeb plays wrist-thwacking sensei to the entire EBM genre, leaving little behind but the tattered remains of also-ran kraut-technoids fried to a delicate crunch in a hellfire of black-belt beats, acidic trance symphonics and sandblasted melody. Awash in corrosive breakbeats, opening tune “Unleashed” surges coolly and insistently forth, Leeb’s reverb-dripping rasp leading a pack of Pro Tools multi-layers remindful of his and Peterson’s “Voyeur” Noise Unit effort of last year, the Cirrus-esque “Liberation” in particular (later on, the KMFDM-grinding “Dissension” posts up a few lines of that song’s rap). “Social Enemy” is the Bush-basher, one synth percolating on all cylinders over spacewalk sound­tracking until a mother of a hook appears out of nowhere. One first here is the use of guest vocalists commanding entire tracks, with Front 242’s Jean-Luc De Meyer gnashing away at “Future Fall” and Covenant’s Eskil Simonsson taking high-BPM trancer “The Storm.” A-

Eric Saeger


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